By Keith Buglewicz
Land Rover designed the 2017 Discovery Sport luxury SUV to go head-to-head with better-established names such as the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and BMW X3. But, unlike these worthy rivals, the Discovery Sport SUV isn’t just about an opulent interior and advanced safety and entertainment options. Land Rover’s Discovery Sport is one luxury SUV that can actually conquer some serious off-road obstacles. Land Rover’s advanced all-wheel-drive Terrain Response system makes novice off-roaders look like pros, leaving vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLK waiting for a tow. Yet for all of its aristocratic heritage, the Discovery Sport has a commoner’s price starting well below $40,000, and that includes partial leather seating and all-wheel drive.
The Discovery Sport’s capable off-road suspension makes for a rather firm on-road ride. Those seeking a powerful V6 or diesel engine are out of luck, and the Sport’s 9-speed automatic isn’t the most responsive transmission we’ve ever tested. Being relatively new, long-term reliability data has yet to be established.
For 2017, Land Rover’s Discovery Sport SUV gains a new Dynamic Design Pack option and four new colors. The InControl Touch Pro infotainment system is made available, as are new driver-assist features including Driver Condition Monitor, Intelligent Speed Monitor and Lane Keep Assist.
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport possesses all the luxury credentials expected of a $40,000 SUV. The cabin isolates wind and road noise efficiently enough...
... to allow for normal conversation at highway speeds, and the ride is rather firm, although not jarringly so. For the driver, there is good visibility in all areas save for the rear quarters, which have small side glass and big blind spots. The Discovery Sport’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is powerful, but when paired to the 9-speed automatic doesn’t feel as smooth or responsive as most of its competition. Then again, most of the Discovery Sport’s competition can’t follow it off-road. We tested the Discovery Sport on ice-covered Icelandic “roads” during the dead of winter and never once got stuck or stranded. Full credit goes not to the driver, however, but to Land Rover’s Terrain Response system with various settings for Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts and Sand.
ON-ROAD ELEGANCE, OFF-ROAD GRIT
Regardless of weather, road conditions or location, the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport has the power to impress country club elites and outdoor adventurers alike.
FIXED PANORAMIC ROOF
Available on higher trim levels, Land Rover’s 2017 Discovery Sport’s fixed-glass roof panel spans nearly the entire cabin length, giving every passenger a great view of the sky above without all the wind and noise of a conventional sunroof.
With an interior bristling with pragmatic style, the Discovery Sport's inside offers the same blend of off-road utility and luxury-brand plushness the rest of the SUV delivers. The efficient, blocky theme feels right in line with off-road adventuring, but the deep-dish seating, 8-way-power front seats, and leather upholstery (leather and cloth on SE versions) remind you this is a luxury SUV. The raised 2nd-row seats -- ah, stadium seating! -- slide and recline, and will easily accommodate 6-foot-4 occupants, and the smart interior packaging gives it more usable cargo space than its larger BMW X3 and Audi Q5 rivals.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is shorter than competitors, but it's also wider, giving it an edge when it comes to stability. The steeply sloped windshield helps keep wind noise to nearly nonexistent levels, depending on speed. The short overhangs in the front and rear give it generous approach and departure angles -- that means it can tackle steep slopes without scraping -- and it can even ford streams up to 23.6 inches deep. And, as an aesthetic bonus, the body-color C-pillar looks like a bladed weapon.
For a luxury SUV starting under $40,000, the 2017 Discovery Sport SE comes nicely equipped. All-wheel drive is standard, as is the Terrain Response System, Hill Descent Control, push-button start, partial leather seating, power-adjustable front seats, USB media and charging ports in the first row, plus two 2nd-row USB charging ports. A 10-speaker audio/infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen and Bluetooth connectivity is also standard. If you want full leather seating and the panoramic sunroof, you'll have to move up one trim level to the Discovery Sport HSE.
Stand-alone options and packages are available for the Discovery Sport SE, HSE and HSE LUX and include keyless entry and heated front and rear seats on the SE model, plus smart safety features like automatic traffic detection, high-beam assist, surround camera system, adaptive headlights and emergency braking on the HSE and HSE Lux versions. The HSE and Lux trims can come with a heated steering wheel and windshield, head-up display, upgraded audio and adaptive suspension. We’d skip the Meridian audio upgrade and Touch Pro navigation system as your smartphone's voice commands coming through the standard Bluetooth setup will always get you home.
While we were hoping to see a revised 2.0-liter 4-cylinder again this year -- the new Ingenium engine is a gem -- instead the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport gets the same engine it had last year, regardless of model. The 240 horsepower of a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine sends power through a 9-speed automatic transmission to a Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which seamlessly varies the power between the front wheels and the rears, depending on where the system senses that the tires have the best grip. This setup works ruggedly well in the new Discovery Sport, but suffers from turbo lag, and the 9-speed automatic lags when it shifts, and doesn't respond very quickly to your right foot.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
250 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport is the least expensive Land Rover model available, with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $38,700 including the $995 destination charge. We suggest the more lavishly equipped Discovery Sport HSE, which starts at a still reasonable $43,200. If you want all the bells and whistles, and bragging rights to spending the most, head for the $47,000 Discovery Sport HSE Lux; once you've added in all the various options, you're looking at a price tag well north of $60,000. We still recommend the HSE first for the longest-lasting satisfaction, though the SE model will also earn your pride. For a closer look at what folks in your area paid for the new Discovery Sport, check out the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price. At resale time, the Audi Q5 is a little better, while the BMW X3 slots well below.